Telephone counseling finds increasing mental depression

In a one-day session of telephone counseling with labor lawyers on problems related to forced overtime work and death from overwork (karoshi), 304 callers brought to attention 247 overtime work cases and 57 cases of deaths from overtime and other work-related deaths and accidents.

On November 22, labor lawyers received emergency calls at nine locations throughout the country, including Tokyo. It was the first joint counseling by the Labor Lawyers Association of Japan and the National Liaison Council of Karoshi Lawyers.

A 36-year-old male telecommunication worker said that he works 500 hours a month, including two days working all night and working till 3 a.m. for three days a week. He said that after working this way for two years, he developed depressive psychosis and is now suspended from the company. He asked the lawyers to help him to be recognized as suffering from a work-related illness.

A 30-year-old tire maker employee, who is now absent from work because of depression, said that 30 percent of people at his workplace are suffering from the same illness.

There were many callers complaining about excessive work loads and forced overtime work. A worker said that he is forced to work 16 hours per week without overtime pay. Such complaints came mostly from men in their 20s and 30s.

Natsume Ichiro, vice secretary of the Labor Lawyers Association of Japan, said, "Corporate restructuring and the resultant worker dismissals have had adverse effects. We want to strengthen the movement to expose prevailing illegal overtime work." (end)

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